Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Revelation 18:9-20

There is a lot of speculation about the book of Revelation. What does it mean? Who are the players in the visions? Scores of people have speculated on which countries in today's world are the ones who ultimately be subject to God's wrath and judgment? Who will be "in" and blessed and included and welcomed? Who will be "out" - destroyed, burned, and cast into the outer darkness.

I think some of the speculation comes from our own sense of right and wrong. We all want, and maybe even need to believe that at some point, those who do the right thing and make good choices and are good citizens that are faithful to God will somehow be rewarded. It might not be in this life, but certainly God will make all things right - at some point. And for those of us who live faithful lives and don't feel the encouragement or blessing from God now, remain faithful anyway - not just because it is the right thing to do, but because we know it will work out in the end. As we see others around us being hurtful to others, selfish in their daily lives, being dishonest, careless, and just downright cruel, we more easily can deal with the fact that there are people in the world like that when we say to ourselves "they'll get theirs!" It all comes down to judgment. We hold out for that last judgment as the time when all things will be just.

While that is true, and God does make all things right in the end, when I read things like today's passage from Revelation, I wonder what it really means? Is there really a city that will be destroyed? My guess is it is a metaphor for something else. And, while I'm an educated person, scores of others are also educated and have speculated on the exact correlation of the metaphor to today's world, I can't begin to do the same. I think it's dangerous to assume anything about God and His judgment. Thousands assume things all the time, and they are wrong - God loves me, so I won't get sick. God loves me so I'm protected no matter where I go or what I do. God loves me so bad things can't happen to me. God loves me so he will give me that Cadillac to drive. I don't assume. Many assumed that Jesus would overthrow the Romans and establish God's kingdom on earth. While I believe he did establish God's kingdom on earth, it was in a much different way than any expected - it was in the hearts of people, and not in the government.

I expect God's judgment to be the same, not done in a way that is expected, but certainly in a way that is wholly just. While I would love to see the folks that have caused hurt and pain in my life get their just reward, I also am very aware that God loves them just as much as he loves me. Jesus died for them too. So God's judgment might very well look different than I would expect, nonetheless, He is God and His ways are better and higher than mine. His will be done.

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